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(1.) His written word, the Bible, is slighted; Christ hath left it to us, as the book of our instructions, to show us what way we must steer our course, if we would come to Einmanuel's land. It is a lamp to light us through a dark world to eternal light. And he hath left it upon us, to search it with that diligence wherewith men dig into mines for silver and gold, John v. 39. But, ah ! how is this sacred treasure profaned by many! They ridicule the holy word, by which they must be judged at the last day; and will rather lose their souls than their jest, dressing up the conceit of their wanton wits in scripture-phrases; in which they act as mad a part, as one who would dig into a mine to procure metal to melt, and pour down his own and his neighbour's throat. Many exhaust their spirits in reading romances, and their minds pursue them, as the flame doth the dry stubble ; while they have no heart for, nor relish of the holy word, and therefore seldom take a Bible in their hands. What is agreeable to the vanity of their minds is pleasant and taking : But what recommends holiness to their unholy hearts, makes their spirits dull and flat. What pleasure will they find in reading of a profane ballad, or story book, to whom the Bible is tasteless, as the white of an egg! Many lay by their Bibles with their Sabbath day's clothes; and whatever use they have for their clothes, they have none for their Bibles, till the return of the Sabbath. Alas! the dust or finery about your Bibles is a witness now, and will, at the last day, be a witness of the enmity of your hearts against Christ as a prophet. Besides all this, among these who ordinarily read the scriptures, how few are there that read it as the word of the Lord to their souls, and keep communion with him in it. They do not make his statutes their counsellors, nor doth their particular case send them to their Bibles. They are strangers to the solid comfort of the scriptures. And if at any time they be dejected, it is something else than the word that revives them : As Ahab was cured of his sullen fit, by the securing of Naboth's vineyard for him.
(2.) Christ's word preached is despised. The entertainment most of the world, to whom it has come, have always given it, is that which is mentioned, Mat. xxi. 5. They made light of it. And for its sake they are despised whom he has employed to preach it; whatever other face men
put upon their contempt of the ministry, John xv. 20. « The servant is not greater than his Lord ; if they have persécuted me, they will also persecute you ; if they have kept my sayings, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake.” That Leyi was the son of the hated, seems not to have been without a mystery, which the world in all ages hath unriddled. But though the earthen vessel, wherein God has put the treasure, be turned, with many, into vessels wherein there is no pleasure, yet why is the treasure itself slighted ? But slighted it is, and that with a witness this day. Lord, who hath believed our report? To whom shall we speak? Men can, without remorse, make to themselves silent Sabbaths, one after another. And, alas ! when they come to ordinances, for the most part, it is but to appear (as the word is, to be seen) before the Lord, and to tread his courts, namely, as a company of beasts would do, if they were driven into them, Isa. i. 12. So little reverence and awe of God appears on their spirits. Many stand like brazen walls before the word, in whose corrupt conversation the preaching of the word makes no breach. Nay, not a few are growing worse and worse, under precept upon precept; and the result of all is, “ They go and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken," Isa. xxviii. 13. What tears of blood are sufficient to lament that (the gospel) the grace of God is thus received in vain ! We are but the voice of one crying; the speaker is in heaven ; and speaks to you from heaven by men; why do ye refuse him that speaketh ? Heb. xii. 25. God has made our Master hear of all things, and we are sent to court a spouse for him. There is none so worthy as he ; none more unworthy than they to whom this match is promised; but the prince of darkness is preferred before the Prince of peace. A dismal darkness overclouded the world by Adam's fall, more terrible than if the sun, moon, and stars, had been for ever wrapt up in blackness of darkness ; and there we should have eternally lain, had not this grace
gospel, as a shining sun, appeared to dispel it, Tit. ii. 11. But yet we fly like night-owls from it; and like the wild beasts, lay ourselves down in our dens; when the sun
we are struck blind with the light thereof; and, as creatures of darkness, love darkness rather than light.
Such is the enmity of the hearts of men against Christ, in his prophetical office.
2. The natural man is an enemy to Christ in his priesto ly office. He is appointed of the Father a Priest for ever : that by his alone sacrifice and intercession, sinners may have peace with, and access to God; but Christ cruci. fied is a stumbling-block,and foolishness to the unrenewed part of mankind, to whom he is preached, 1 Cor. i. 23. They are not for him, as the new and living way. Nor is he, by the voice of the world, an high Priest over the house of God. Corrupt nature goes quite another way to work.
Evidence l. None of Adam's children naturally incline to receive the blessing in borrowed robes ; but would always, according to the spider's motto, owe all to themselves; and so climb up to heaven on a thread spun out of their own bowels. For they “ desire to be under the law," Gal. iv. 24. And “ go about to establish their own righteousness, Rom. x. 3. Man, naturally, looks on God as a great Master; and himself, as his servant, that must work and win heaven as his wages. Hence, when conscience is awakened, he thinks, that, to the end he may be saved, he must answer the demands of the law ; serve God as well as he can, and
wherein he comes short. And thus many come to duties, that never come out of then to Jesus Christ.
Evid. 2. As men, naturally, think highly of their duties, that seem to them to be well done ; so they look for acceptance with God according as their work is done, not according to the share they have in the blood of Christ. “Wherefore have we fasted, say they,and thou seest not?” They will value themselves on their performances and attainments; yea, their very opinions in religion, (Phil. ii. 4, 5, 6, 7.), taking to themselves what they rob from Christ, the great High Priest.
Evid. 3. The natural man, going to God in duties, will always be found either to go without a Mediator, or with more than the only Mediator, Jesus Christ. Nature is blind, and therefore venturous : It sets a man a-going immediately to God without Christ; to rush into his presence, and put their petitions in his hand, without being introduced by the secretary of heaven,or putting their requestsinto his hand. So fixed is this disposition in the unrenewed heart, that when many hearers of the gospel are conversed with upon the point of their hopes of salvation, the name of Christ will scarcely be heard from their mouths. Ask them how they think to obtain the pardon of sin ? they will tell you, they beg and look for mercy, because God is a merciful God; and that is all they have to confide in. Others look for mercy for Christ's sake; but how do they know that Christ will take their plea in hand ? Wliy, as the Papists have their mediators with the Mediator, so have they. They know he cannot but do it; for they pray, confess, mourn, and have great desires, and the like ; and so have something of their own to commend them unto him: They were never made poor in spirit, and brought emptyhanded to Christ, to lay the stress of all on his atoning blood.
3. The natural man is an enemy to Christ in his kingly office. The Father has appointed the Mediator King in Zion, Psalm ii. 6. And all to whom the gospel comes are commavded, on their highest peril, to kiss the Son, and submit themselves unto him, ver. 12. But the natural voice of mankind is, Away with him, as you may see, ver. 2. 3. « They will not have him to reignoverthem,” Luke xix. 14.
· Evid. 1. The workings of corrupt nature to wrest the government out of his hands. No sooner was he born, but being born a king, Herod persecuted him, Matth. ii. And when he was crucified, they set up over his head his accusation, written, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews, Matth. šxvii. 37. Though his kingdom be a spiritual kingdom, and not of this world; yet, they cannot allow him a kingdom within a kingdom, which acknowledgețh no other head or supreme, but the royal Mediator. They make bold with his royal prerogatives, changing his laws, institutions, and ordinances, modelling his worship according to the devices of their own hearts; introducing new offices and offcers into his kingdom, not to be found in the book of the manner of his kingdom ; disposing of the external government thereof, as may best suit their carnal designs. Such is the enmity of the hearts of men against Zion's King.
Evid. 2. How unwilling are men, naturally, to submit unto, and be hedged in by the laws and discipline of his kingdom! As a king, he is a law-giver, (Isa. xxxiii. 22.) and has appointed an external government, discipline, and
censors, to controul the unruly, and to keep his professed subjects in order, to be exercised by officers of his own appointment, Matth. xviii. 17, 18. i Cor. xii. 28. 1 Tim. v. 17. Heb. xiii. 17. But these are the great eye-sores of the carnal world, who love sinful liberty, and therefore cry out, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us,” Psal. ii. 3. Hence this work is found to be, in a special manner, a striving against the stream of corrupt nature, which, for the most part, puts such a face on the church, as if there were no King in Israel, every one doing that which is right in his own eyes.
Evid. 3. However natural men may be brought to feign submission to the King of saints, yet lusts always retain the throne and dominion in their hearts, and they are serving divers lusts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3. None but these in whom Christ is formed do really put the crown on his head, and receive the kingdom of Christ within them. His crown is the crown wherewith his mother crowned him, in the day of his espousals.” Who are they, whom the power
grace has not subdued, that will allow him to set up, and to put down, in their souls, as he will ? Nay, as for others, any Lord shall sooner get the rule over them, than the Lord of glory: They kindly entertain his enemies, and will never absolutely resign themselves to his government, till conquered in a day of power. Thus ye may see, that the natural man is an enemy to Jesus Christ in all his offices.
But O! how hard is it to convince men in this point! They are very loth to take with it. And, in a special manner, the enmity of the heart against Christ in his priestly office, seems to be hid from the view of most of the hearers of the gospel. Yet there appears to be a peculiar malignity in corrupt nature against that office of his. It may be observed, that the Socinians, these enemies of our blessed Lord, allow him to be properly a prophet and a King, but deny him to be properly a Priest. And this is agreeable enough to the corruption of our nature ; for under the covenant of works, the Lord was known as a Prophet or Teacher, and also as a King or Ruler; but not at all as a Priest : So man knows nothing of the mystery of Christ, as the way to the Father, till it be revealed to him. And when it is revealed, the will riseth up against it ; for cor